Hi, everyone. I had a patient question the other day, yesterday, as a matter of fact, about what I do, or what my family does, for cold and flu season. They made the comment, "You never seem to get sick. What do you do for cold and flu season?" (Check out last year's flu season post here!)
I wouldn't say that we never get sick. We get sick, hopefully not as often as we used to, but my wife's an elementary school teacher, my son's in junior high, and I'm in a practice where I see sick patients from time to time. So we're exposed. No way around that. So every once in a while we get something. It usually doesn't last long, it's pretty mild, and we get past it. But I thought it was a really valid question. I answered it for the patient, but I figured I'd answer it for everybody here.
What do I do? Now I'm not saying that what we do is right for everybody, so don't misunderstand me. But I am going to talk a little bit about what we do at our house. We start "cold and flu season", fall and spring, here in Texas, more fall for us. For some families, depending on the allergies, spring is worse than fall for them. It starts early for us. We make sure our vitamin D levels are good. We get our vitamin D levels checked a couple times a year, and we make sure that our blood levels of vitamin D stay somewhere above 55. 70 to 90, I think, is kind of a sweet spot for a lot of people. People with vitamin D receptor issues might need to be a little higher than that. Not always easy to know that. But I think keeping it above 55 is kind of a good rule of thumb. When you look at most of the research about immune control, defense mechanisms, keeping inflammation down, above 55 seems to be the beginning of where all that happens. Anything above 30 and lab's happy.
So some sort of vitamin D. We like to take one that has a little bit of vitamin K in it as well. Remember, vitamin D moves the minerals from the digestive tract into the bloodstream. Vitamin K and certain fatty acids help move it from the bloodstream into the tissues. You do need both. And the higher doses of vitamin D you're taking, the more important it is to have a little bit of vitamin K with it. It used to be you could only find that combination in professional quality supplements. Now you're able to find vitamin D with K at most health food stores. They don't make all of the vitamin D that way. It hasn't gotten to that point yet. But you're able to find it most anywhere you can find decent vitamins. Don't know that you'll find it at your local corner drug store. But if you go to an independent health food store, I call them Mom and Pop health food stores, you'll probably find one there that has it. But you're welcome to call the office. Anyway, vitamin D: really important. Keep that up where it needs to be.
Proper sleep: as difficult as it is, and it's hard for us too, but getting a good amount of sleep at night makes a huge difference. I wear ... There is it. A Biostrap. I don't know how well you can see that there. Okay. I wear a Biostrap. It's a fitness tracker, or a movement tracker. And it does other stuff. One of these days I'll go through a whole review of the Biostrap. But it monitors my sleep each night. It tells me how much deep sleep, how much moderate sleep, and how much light sleep, how many times I'm disturbed or wake up during the night, how long it took me to get to sleep, what my heart rate variability was during the night, whether I recovered sufficiently to have another workout the next day. It gives me a lot of information about my sleep. And so if I have two or three nights in a row where I know I didn't get good sleep, I know I'm at increased risk. My immune system's not going to work very well. I'm not even going to balance blood sugar.
Here's a tip about sleep ... Here you go: tidbit ... Obviously, this is going to be a little disorganized today. If you don't get a good night's sleep, your blood sugar can be as poorly regulated as a Type 2 diabetic the next day. Even if you normally manage your blood sugar fine. I don't normally have blood sugar issues. But if I'm a couple hours short on sleep or my sleep quality's really bad, if I'm checking my blood sugar the next day, that will rise after a meal much like it would if I was insulin resistant or Type 2 diabetic. Get a good night's sleep, and that starts to get right back to normal again. But a good night's sleep is seriously important for us, especially when you're talking about immune system, controlling inflammation, defending yourself, not to mention just cognitive awareness and being able to stay on task and get things done.
So sleep is very important. So we've done vitamin D and sleep.
Supplements that I keep around the house: echinacea, Andrographis, Broncafect, Inner Defense, which is from Young Living. The first three were from Standard Process. We keep vitamin D at the house. Essential oils: RC, Raven, Immupower, Thieves, Purification, a combination of diffusing and applying those and everything we need to do a Raindrop Treatment. If any one of us starts to get sick, one of the first things we do is do a Raindrop Treatment. And in many cases, that turns the corner for us and definitely shortens the course of whatever we're going through because of what it does to stimulate your immune system.
But on top of that, we start taking echinacea. We add a little extra vitamin D. We'll put in some Broncafect or Andrographis. Like I said, we'll start applying the essential oils. We take sugar out of the diet as soon as we know we're starting to get sick. If we get a fever, we'll do a ginger bath or we'll get in the infrared sauna, kind of, I hate to say, help the fever along. But the fever's there for a reason. If you start to get a fever, most of the time that's to try to kill off whatever's living in you. Now there are a couple of cases where you can get a bacterial infection where the bacteria makes a chemical that causes your body to have a fever. You didn't choose to have it. It kind of forces you to have a fever. That's a different kind of fever. That's one that just kind of steadily rises over time. But when you get this kind of undulating up and down fever, that's typically what your body's doing on its own. Just support that. Let your body kill this stuff off. It knows what it's doing in most cases.
Plenty of liquids. I already said we stay away from sugar. We make sure we avoid dairy products when we get like that so we don't get extra mucusy. And then of course, we wash our hands and we don't eat or drink after each other.
But I want you to understand that physical barriers to infection, like washing your hands or staying home or wearing a mask or something like that, those can be helpful. But we are exposed to ... I'll call them pathogens: germs, microbes, things that could make us sick. We're exposed to those on a very regular basis. And for most of us who have properly functioning immune systems, they don't bother us. Or if we get a little something, it's there for a day, day and a half, and it goes away. Now there are people who have weakened immune systems, and they need to be much more careful about their physical exposure. But for most of us with normally functioning immune systems, if we take care of ourselves properly, it's just not that big of a deal.
There are kind of two theories to this. There's I guess what's called the germ theory, or what I would call kind of an external theory of this, where it's all about what you get exposed to. So you do your hand sanitizer all the time, constantly wash your hands, you stay 10 feet away from anybody who looks a little suspect. And there's the avoidance approach, which ... I'm not saying that's not prudent. But you can rely on that too much.
Then there's the approach of make me healthy enough that if I come in contact with that I'm less likely to succumb to it. I can fight it off well. I can protect myself. And that, I think, is a better option. You can control the health of your own body much better than you can control exposure from other people. And like I mentioned with my family, my son's in junior high, my wife teaches elementary school, and I run a wellness practice. We're around sick people. There's just no way around it. We can't take the avoidance approach to this.
So anyway, if you're going to be going to the mall, flying on an airplane, going to the rodeo, or if you work in an area ... You work in a pediatric clinic or you're a school teacher, whatnot: if you're exposed to this on a regular basis, just take some steps to make sure that you're well prepared and well defended.
And I would also say, as you're listening to this, the general theory of "If I take good enough care of myself, I'm prepared for what I'm exposed to", that applies to lots of different parts of life, whether it's stress, whether it's spirituality, whether it's health and infection, financially, whatever. It's a general principle of life. Apply it to your health as well. Don't ignore it when it comes to that.
So get good sleep. Make sure your vitamin D's where it needs to be. Don't eat foods that inflame you. Don't give into emotions that inflame you: control some of that. Don't be negative. Control your exposure as best you can. And have a little ... I guess I'd call it a first aid kit for this kind of stuff at home where you have echinacea, andrographis, Broncafect, maybe Inner Defense, some vitamin C. I use liposomal C: the liquid one that's very absorbable. It doesn't just get into your bloodstream, it actually makes it into the tissues. Liposomal vitamin C. But have those around. Have those available. Know how and when to use them. And take care of yourself from the inside out. And that's probably your best defense during a time of year like this.
So it was a great question from a patient. I answered it, like I said, to them in the office. But I wanted to take the opportunity to answer it for everybody.
So the more questions I get from you, the more these blog posts will be geared toward what you actually want. So email or Facebook message me your questions, and I'll make sure we do posts like this to answer them for you.
So until next time, I hope you take good care of yourself. Do your best not to get sick. Get plenty of sleep. Eat good food. And as I always say, eat for your health, train for performance, and live the life you love today. Thanks.